Monday, December 8, 2008

Remake Vs. Original (TDTESS)

Over at, Alex Billington wrote an article discussing the differences between the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still" from 1951 and the new "The Day the Earth Stood Still" that opens this Friday (Alex already saw the remake and after that saw the original for the first time.)

Billington's article states that the original film is cheesy the the remake is a better film for modern times. Latino Review decided to do a rebuttal and showcase some quotes from First Showing's article and then give its own remarks on the original and remake films.

Here are some clips from the rebuttal (with the clips from the original article that the rebuttal addresses).

FS: Derrickson's remake is by no means a perfect film, but I gained a lot more appreciation for it after I saw how horrid and cheesy the original was. Sure it was a great film for its time, maybe, but it's no longer 1951. And in 2008, watching it for the very first time, I wondered how anyone could still enjoy it and yet stomp all over Derrickson's remake? Maybe I just grew up loving the spectacle of movies more than the story; Home Alone and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the films that defined me and my generation when I was a kid. That doesn't discredit me, that just means I have an opinion that may differ from everyone.

This is the main issue I have with this opinion piece. Movies are story driven works of art. If the story is bad, the film is bad. Plain and simple. Oh sure, you can make exceptions to this rule; any of the Rambo films comes to mind where substance is substituted for story, but to say that you love the "spectacle of movies more than the story" is the reason today's movies are so dumbed down.

Studios love this type of audience. The type that leaves their brain at the door, and sits in awe as explosions happen around them, all the while ignoring the fact that the dialogue was written poorly and the plot is asinine. (Any Michael Bay movie comes to mind) How do you discredit story for spectacle? Because there's a man wearing a tin suit, your imagination is so limited, you cannot see him as being from outer space? I suppose the early works of Mickey Mouse should be discredited as well because they're in black & white and not CGI.

I'm going to post this from Wikipedia because I think it's important in regards to the original movie: The film's explicit message of peace, in combination with its dark outlook regarding human society, struck a chord with audiences, earning it lasting acclaim. The movie is ranked seventh in Arthur C. Clarke's List of the Best Science-Fiction Films of All Time, just above Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which Clarke himself wrote the screenplay. In 1995, The Day the Earth Stood Still was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". In 2008, it was voted as the fifth best science fiction film ever made as part of the AFI's 10 Top 10.[10]

The fact that it's no longer 1951 should not be a reason to discredit the original. Its message holds as true today as it did back then. We're a war planet. We always have been. We've amassed technology to a degree that we can destroy ourselves within minutes. How does the message of the original still not stick to today's society?

FS: Lastly, I want to make the claim that in the remake, the message in it is not necessarily about our environment. Here's where I think some brilliance shines through with the remake. As far as I can recall, never once does Klaatu or anyone in the remake ever mention the environment or that certain things (like cars or factories) are causing the Earth to die. He just mentions that humans, and humanity, are killing Earth. I thought it was brilliant that screenwriter (David Scarpa) allowed for this kind of open interpretation, even though most naive moviegoers won't think about it. They'll instantly connect it with the environment.

Moviegoers will connect it to the environment because it's not about ultimate fighting or the economy. If it's not about the environment, then why is this Fox's first "Green" production? With new energy saving generators and a paperless set? Even the director had to use digital storyboards, something he himself found challenging. If it's not about the environment, then what's killing the earth? Big Macs? This is a script that was affected by the writer's strike, and you see that in the final product.

FS: In the original, they also allowed for a similar bit of interpretation, but it connected with the time that the movie came out because Klaatu actually mentions atomic power and violence as his concerns. And at the time, that's what people were afraid of the most.

Wait, we're still not afraid of blowing ourselves up? Guess we don't have to concern ourselves with Iran or North Korea acquiring nuclear capability then. You know, because atomic power and violence aren't issues we're still faced with today. Guess those suicide bombings in the Middle East are just clumsy bomb carriers who keep tripping on their own devices. The message is just as important today as it was back then.

And I understand how totalitarian the original seemed with it's ultimatum, and how that shouldn't apply to the remake. That you should be left to an open interpretation. But that's what made the original soooo cool. Aliens coming down and telling us to straighten our shit out. (Swear word goal completed.)

Click here to read the rest of the rebuttal which contain Keanu Reeves's acting, Jaden Smith's acting and how the remake's script compares to the original. Enjoy!
Make your own decision and see "The Day the Earth Stood Still" this Friday!

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